A hotly-debated Bishop Arts development is converting some skeptics into believers.
Alamo Manhattan unveiled its retooled plans for a development on the edge of Dallas’ Bishop Arts District Thursday night.
The new plans include shorter retail spaces for local businesses, areas for public art and more details added to the building facades.
Neighbors weren’t happy with the original design -- a five-story, 57,000 square-foot block of apartments, retail and parking. They complained the proposed construction was too big for the neighborhood, and it would change the nature of the funky, one-story area. Some also worried that new development will displace the neighborhood’s mostly working class, Latino and black residents.
Alamo Manhattan got rid of the monolithic, block-like structures. It broke up the buildings and pulled them back from the street -- like tiered wedding cakes.
Matt Segrest, Alamo Manhattan president, said his team had been listening to neighbors’ concerns.
“We want it to feel like at the street level, it’s a one-story building,” Segrest said. “We want as you’re walking, to feel like you’re in the rest of Bishop Arts.”
Segrest said his team tried to incorporate Bishop Arts’ architectural designs, borrowing from the look of neighboring businesses, such as Oddfellows’ outdoor bar space and Eno’s roof line. They also carved more architectural details into the storefront facades, widened sidewalks and added more bike racks.
Lisa Benskin, president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, was a big critic of the original plans. To Benskin, the first batch of designs were “too monolithic.”
Now, she’s hopeful.
”I think this was extremely exciting. The first concept that Alamo Manhattan presented was an abysmal failure,” Benskin said. “It’s obvious they’ve listened to neighbor feedback, because these new designs have incorporated the changes that the neighbors have asked for.”
But some think the new plans only address aesthetic changes.
They fear this development -- and others underway in the neighborhood -- will push out folks already in Bishop Arts and Oak Cliff.
Alamo Manhattan said it’s going to make room for people with lower incomes.
In order to receive the city funding it’s seeking, it’s required to make 20 percent of its apartment units affordable. It will also create eight “micro” apartments, which Segrest said will be priced at rates lower than the affordable housing units.
Kenneth Denson owns Red Pegasus Games and Comics in Bishop Arts. He said Alamo Manhattan’s new plans are a big improvement. But he’s still skeptical.
“My concern is that right as soon as this is done, they go back to the plan of tearing down my neighbors’ businesses,” Denson said.
Alamo Manhattan plans to bring its proposal to a city board for review. If all goes according to the company’s timeline, it’ll break ground next year.